VCU (21-5) @ Richmond (15-10)

Robbins Center – Richmond, Virginia 9:00pm EST – ESPN2

Off-shore Consensus Opening Line: VCU -3.5 -110

Consensus Betting Percentage: 64% VCU

Consensus Current Line: VCU – 3.5 -110

Pinnacle Line: VCU – 3.5 -110

Tonight, two of the top teams in the A-10 conference will take it to the hardwoods, as Will Wade and his VCU Rams will stay in Richmond to take on Chris Mooney and the Richmond Spiders on the Spiders’ home court. The last game between the two on Feb. 1, played in Wade Arena, resulted in a 81-74 VCU victory, in which ShawnDre’ Jones’ 30 pts weren’t enough for Richmond to overcome the Rams who got to the foul line 31 times, hitting 24 of them. Jones, and Richmond, will look to avenge this loss on their home court this evening.   

The Spiders (9-4) are 2 games back from VCU and Dayton for the lead in the A-10 conference, and are coming into this one off of a tough in-conference road defeat to George Mason, 93-70.  The three-point shots were not falling for Richmond in this game, going 6-21 for 29 percent.  They were also out-rebounded 42-23, vs. this George Mason team that ranks 29th in the country in defensive rebounding.  However, other than their 2 losses to George Mason, and their 2 losses to VCU and Dayton, Richmond hasn’t lost since December 23rd to Oral Roberts.

VCU comes into this one on a 7 game win-streak, with key wins vs. Davidson, St. Bonaventure, and Dayton in this span.  Their last win, on Tuesday, came at the expense of St. Joe’s, 91-81.  The Rams shot 48 percent from 3 in this one, and once again got to the line, hitting 26-37 free-throws on their way to victory.  JeQuan Lewis put up 30 points, hitting 9 of 15 from 3, and going 7-9 from the line.  VCU will look to add another conference win to its belt tonight, on their quest for the number 1 seed in the A-10 tournament and an eventual birth into the big dance.

VCU features the 68th best offense in the nation in terms of efficiency, shooting an effective FG% of 52.7%, good for 83rd in the NCAA. They do more damage from 2 (52.6%, 55th NCAA), as opposed to 3 (35.3%, 163rd NCAA), and are better than average in generating second opportunities on the glass (96th NCAA).  They will take the court vs. a Richmond defense that grades out as 83rd overall in efficiency while holding opponents to a FG% of 47.8% (66th NCAA).  The Spiders play smothering perimeter defense, holding opponents to a 30.2% 3-point percentage, putting them at 11th in the nation in that category. Where they could find a major disadvantage vs. VCU is on the defensive boards, where they rank 236th in the country, while VCU is certainly decent in terms of offensive rebounding.  Other than rebounding, however, the Richmond defense matches up pretty well with the VCU offense, and as long as they aren’t dominated on the glass, the Spiders should find success in containing this Rams offense. 

Richmond may not find as much success on the offensive side of the ball where they rank 143rd in efficiency.  The Spiders do shoot a strong percentage inside, averaging 55.4% (13th NCAA), but struggle mightily from the perimeter, only shooting 32.2% (291st NCAA).  They are also very bad when it comes to offensive rebounding, where they rate as 340th in the nation, making them one of the worst offensive rebounding teams out there.  VCU, as usual, features an aggressive defense that grades out as 37th overall in terms of efficiency, and 50th in opponent FG%.  They attack and force turnovers (23rd NCAA), ranking 17th overall in percentage of stolen possessions.  The Rams are a short team though (230th tallest), and are mediocre on the defensive boards (135th NCAA), so they don’t matchup too well to take advantage of Richmond’s glaring weakness offensive weakness.  Richmond is 69th in the country when it comes to avoiding turnovers, so if they can take care of the ball vs. the smothering VCU defense, Richmond could hang in there and possibly even pull off the upset at home.

Richmond is 5-1 ATS last 6 games.

Richmond is 4-1-1 ATS last 6 home games.

VCU is 1-4 ATS last 5 road games.

The early morning action is favoring VCU, with 65% of the wagers thus far on the Rams.  There has been no movement of the line though, with some places, including Pinnacle, showing a very slight shade of the juice towards VCU.